The Bendigo Spirit survived a scare against the winless Sydney Flames in last Sunday’s epic Women’s National Basketball League clash at the Bendigo Stadium.
In a game where everyone expected the home side to dominate, the Spirit struggled from the onset against a highly competitive Sydney line up before a thrilling last quarter set up a narrow two-point victory.
Sydney got off to a promising start and looked as though they may claim their first win of the season.
Becca Tobin and Nadeen Payne were stand outs and combined had a huge impact on the final result in the dying moments.
With four seconds on the clock and a massive upset looming, Payne made a two point lay up (assisted by Tobin) to put Spirit in front (66-64) before Sydney called a time out.
Possession was back with the Flames and they were determined to take the win but Tobin had other ideas and a steal with just two seconds to go cemented Spirit to second place on the ladder.
Payne contributed 14 points, six rebounds and three assists.
Tobin claimed MVP bragging rights with 11 points, seven rebounds, four assists, three steals and one block.
This was a game where the losing side arguably took more away from the match outcome, and Sydney will go into Sunday’s return encounter on its home court with its confidence boosted, having pushed the Bendigo side all the way.
Spirit coach Simon Pritchard said Sydney managed to rattle his charges early, with the match a one point affair at quarter time.
Sydney’s lead stretched as far as 10 points during the second quarter as the match looked like slipping away from Bendigo.
“We were not firing on all cylinders, not communicating in defence, it really looked like we had no plan out there.”
Bendigo lifted after half time, and the game was back to one point at the final break.
Quicker ball movement was crucial in the final quarter in a hard fought clash.
Pritchard paid tribute to the efforts of captain Natalie Hurst for her leadership of the team, and for the efforts of both Hurst and Louella Tomlinson in largely negating the impact of Sydney’s Alex Bunton, who shot just one from 13.
The Spirit host seventh placed Dandenong tonight at the Bendigo Stadium from 7pm in another danger game for the finals aspirant, before Sunday’s clash in Sydney.